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Game Breakdown & Prediction for Mizzou

The Florida Gators will look to take out the frustration from their first loss of the season against the Missouri Tigers on Saturday afternoon in The Swamp.Head coach Will Muschamp couldn't keep his team in the No. 2 slot in the national title picture against his alma mater Georgia, but there is a definite sense that the team will bounce back in facing a lowly opponent this weekend.

For Mizzou, it will be an extremely difficult test in one of the most hostile environments in college football. But longtime coach Gary Pinkel did deliver the program's first win in the SEC since moving there this season, defeating Kentucky in Week 9.

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That sparse momentum that the Tigers have to build on shouldn't be nearly enough to overcome the wrath of the Gators, who simply have way more talent across the board. Crazier things have happened in college football though, haven't they?

The betting line is with Florida by 16 points. A redemption game after its first loss of the season. At home. Against a team whose only SEC win just came against 1-8 Kentucky. It's easy to see why the Gators are heavily favored in this one. Don't be surprised to see this line go up as the week progresses.

Missouri Injury Report

Jack Meiners, OL (knee) OUT—Unfortunately, the circumstances haven't changed for the versatile senior who was projected to start at right guard. He continues to recover from the knee injury suffered in a preseason scrimmage.

Florida Injury Report

Damien Jacobs, DL (undisclosed) QUESTIONABLE—The injury report indicates that the reserve lineman has an undisclosed injury. However, Robbie Andreu of the GainesvilleSun had a different story on Saturday:

Jacobs didn't play in the Georgia game and his status remains up in the air for Mizzou.

Solomon Patton, WR (broken arm) OUT - His arm was broken on the fall on the horsecollar tackle by the Georgia defender last week.

BCS/Top-25 Poll Implications

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The loss last week hasn't ended Florida's national title hopes. 

 

At No. 7 in the BCS, the Gators have a golden opportunity as far as their next three games go. With other top-ranked SEC teams doing battle, Florida must take advantage of its relatively cupcake schedule starting with this contest against Mizzou.

There may be big potential for a letdown somewhere along the line, but there shouldn't be any lack of fire after coming up short by a score of 17-9 to now sixth-ranked Georgia. There are no ramifications for the Tigers of any kind, except for a bid at a postseason bowl birth. They do have a record of 4-4 this year, but winning at least two of the next four games is going to prove very challenging.

What They're Saying

Stu Durando of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch previews the Mizzou-Florida game, and quotes Muschamp's commentary on the Gators' first loss of 2012:

"We're not a team that has a lot of margin for error. We're just not quite explosive enough offensively to overcome six turnovers...I said in the locker room, "You've won well together and now we have to find a way to handle adversity." We've done that very well in my time.

It sounds as though the Gators coach moved his team past the first blemish on its record rather quickly.

Missouri Player to Watch: RB Kendial Lawrence

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Whether it's freshman Corbin Berkstresser or typical starter James Franklin under center for the Tigers, the passing game is going to have an extremely difficult time against the Gators. Multiple turnovers are likely, as Florida picked off NFL prospect Aaron Murray three times last week.

That means the senior back Lawrence will have to shoulder the offensive load. A monster game from him is really the only chance Mizzou has of sniffing an upset. Keeping the Gators offense off the field will be a must, and Lawrence tends to be the most explosive player in the Tigers lineup.

Don't count on Lawrence having a huge game, but he's who the game plan should center on early and often.

Florida Player to Watch: TE Jordan Reed

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It will be interesting to see how the Gators' leading receiver bounces back from the crushing mishap in the Georgia game.

In the final two minutes, Reed was striding toward the end zone for a potential tying score, only to see Bulldogs beastly linebacker Jarvis Jones punch the ball out right at the goal line. A touchdown and a subsequent two-point conversion would have knotted the game at 17.

The receiving ability of Reed should create all sorts of problems for Mizzou, which sports at top-25 pass defense but has been the beneficiary of playing competition such as Kentucky, South Eastern Louisiana and other offenses not known for their aerial prowess.

Expect a big game and probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 yards for the junior tight end.

Key Matchup

 Mizzou's front seven will have its hands full in dealing with the Florida running game and its big, athletic offensive line. The dual-threat nature of QB Jeff Driskel and persistent pounding of senior RB Mike Gillislee should manhandle the Tigers defense, which is more known for stopping the pass.

The Gators managed only 75 yards on the ground last week, and unless Missouri has some stunning defensive revelation, Florida will at least double that total.

Prediction

Too much size, speed, athleticism, explosiveness...name any area, and the Gators have the Tigers beaten in every regard. The likely return of Franklin at QB for the Tigers won't help nearly enough, as this game's outcome will be decided by halftime. 

Final score: Florida 38, Missouri 14


Matt Fitzgerald is a columnist for the bleacher report. Visit here to read more of his work. 

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